Disciplinary Meetings and the Disciplinary Process

Sept. 20, 2021

Attending a disciplinary meeting at work can be an extremely intimidating and stressful experience for an employee. If an employer wishes to discipline an employee for misconduct, the employer must have a good reason for doing so and also follow the principles of fair process. Fair process includes the opportunity to have a support person or representative present during disciplinary meetings.[1] We can advise you of your rights as an employee prior to a disciplinary meeting and also attend a disciplinary meeting as your representative.


Employment agreements and workplace policies normally contain agreed internal disciplinary processes that should be followed when taking disciplinary action including the processes for issuing warnings, suspending an employee and dismissing an employee.


An employer may need to undertake a preliminary investigation to decide whether a disciplinary process is required. Once the employer believes there is good reason for starting a disciplinary process, the employer should inform the employee of the problem and provide details of the process to be followed, including how the matter shall be investigated and the possible consequences that may follow an investigation. The employer should advise the employee of their opportunity to comment on the process and of the employee’s right to seek representation or bring a support person to a meeting.


If, after investigating the problem adequately the employer is of the view that the problem may amount to misconduct or serious misconduct, the employer should send the employee a letter inviting them to a meeting. The employer’s letter should identify the misconduct or serious misconduct and include any evidence or witness statements. The employee should be reminded of the opportunity to bring a support person or representative to the disciplinary meeting.


The disciplinary meeting is where the allegations, concerns and results of any prior investigation are put to the employee. The employee should be given the opportunity to explain their version of events and respond to the issues raised. Once the disciplinary meeting is at an end, the employer should take some time to consider all the information, including the employee’s response.


The employer should provide the employee with a proposed outcome or preliminary decision for the employee to comment on before a final decision is made. Once the final decision has been made, the employer should meet with the employee and explain why the decision was made.


If you believe your employer does not have a good reason for taking disciplinary action or has failed to follow the principles of fair process you may have grounds for unjustified dismissal. For more information, please contact us at employment.law@becker.co.nz or call 04 473 8484.


Richard Boud

Staff Solicitor 


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and not tailored to your personal circumstances. It is only current as at the date posted and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact us for further assistance.



[1] French v Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections [2002] 1 ERNZ 325.